When Keith Law ranked the Pirates as his eighth best farm system yesterday, he also noted that four players from the organization made his top 100 prospects list(subscription required). I mentioned that there could be a surprise and he didn’t disappoint. Law has Tyler Glasnow ranked sixth, Austin Meadows 16th and Josh Bell is 56th. That’s the highest we have seen the first two players, while it’s the lowest we have seen Bell. Saying that though, it’s just 5-6 spots away for each of the players, so they have all been in the same range.
The surprise listing should only be considered a surprise if you didn’t follow our draft coverage. Law has Pirates’ first round pick Kevin Newman, ranked 23rd overall. He has not made any other top 100 rankings, but Law loved him during the draft, rating him as the second best player n the entire class. He also has a much more optimistic scouting report for Newman, calling him “a no-doubt shortstop, with the agility, arm and hands to remain at the position”. He rates him as a plus runner(65 on the 20-80 scouting scale) with “good base stealing acumen”, which basically means that Law believes he could be a legit 30+ steals player, to go along with the fact he should also hit .300 and draw some walks.
While you can disagree with the high ranking, if Newman does end up as a player who gets on base, steal 30+ bases and stays at shortstop, then a 23rd ranking on this list could even be considered low.
One omission of note besides Jameson Taillon(who I’ll get back to), is that Harold Ramirez didn’t make Law’s list. Back in July, Law did a mid-season update and had Ramirez ranked 50th. That included players from the draft too, so it’s not as if there were a lot of additional players to consider for this updated list today. There are some new international players who signed, but also some players graduated from that mid-season list. Ramirez had an .836 OPS over 43 games in the Florida State League after those mid-season rankings were posted by Law. For comparison sake, the pitcher-friendly FSL was led by Garrett Cooper, who had a .792 OPS on the season. That’s 44 points lower than what Ramirez put up after the first list was released and Cooper is four years older than Ramirez.
You would think that would keep Ramirez on his new list and even give him a chance to move up, so it is an odd omission. Ramirez has had some questions about his shape in the past, but he showed up in great condition to the Pirates’ mini-camp last month, so that should help him stay on the field and help his overall game with better range, speed on the bases and we could also see him tap into some power.
Law did not have Taillon in his mid-season ranking and he wasn’t among the few names who just missed the top 50 either. With two years missed, you could see someone wanting to see something from Taillon before ranking him in the top 100 after such an absence. We however, saw excellent performances from Taillon in Extended Spring Training, then later he pitched in the Fall Instructional League after recovering from his hernia surgery. Taillon also shed 20 pounds this off-season and declared that he will be ready to go right when Spring Training starts in a week. So he is healthy, in better shape, and looking like a more polished pitcher, despite the time missed.
Only time will tell how he handles a full season of pitching, but Taillon should probably be in any top 100 prospects list due to his upside, which had him in the top 20 pre-injury.